Pub/Bar of the Month May 2015: West Riding Refreshment Rooms, Dewsbury, UK
West Riding Refreshment Rooms, Dewsbury, UK
There's a certain atmosphere to a railway station pub.
Perhaps it's the air of relief about the place. Workers sigh contentedly over a pint after a day in the office or factory, winding down before taking the train ride home.
Travellers with an eye on the clock switch off for a short while, comforted by the fact that they only have to slip out the door in order to board their train.
Other folk, for whom the term 'rush hour' no longer means anything, simply sit and admire the toings and froings, no foot on the gas.
Perhaps it's also the style of the establishment and its welcome echoes of the homely days of steam.
I contemplated these possibilities when I stepped off the platform and dropped in for a drink at the West Riding Refreshment Rooms, in Dewsbury.
Former Waiting Rooms
The pub was created in former waiting rooms in 1994, inspired by its sister establishment, the Stalybridge Station Buffet in Greater Manchester.
As you enter, three rooms, linked in serial fashion, offer a choice of simply furnished drinking areas. The first provides just two tables, but leaves plenty of room for vertical drinking in front of a real fire that must be a real focal point on winter days.
Pew seating, some old sporting prints and a jukebox also feature, along with a collection of bottles on a high shelf that continue into the central bar area where the drinks are served.
Eight handpumps testify that this is a cask ale haven, twenty years in the Good Beer Guide. Beers are a mixture of the innovative and the tried and tested, with local breweries sharing the spotlight with those from further afield.
You might find Taylor's Landlord or Black Sheep Best Bitter rubbing shoulders with ales from Kirkstall, XT, Summer Wine or Wild Beer, or a pint or two from the Sportsman brewery, housed in another sister pub, a few miles away in Huddersfield.
A good selection of bottled beers adds an international dimension.
The large bay window opposite the bar looks out onto the bustling main road and towards the town centre, but the pub then continues into the third area, where old Guinness posters and CAMRA artefacts are displayed and lots of small tables provide space for customers grabbing a bite to eat – a burger, pizza or sandwich perhaps.
The building itself is of considerable interest, described as being of 'Italianate/Tudor' style and with graceful Arabic-arch doorways.
Throughout, rail ephemera is understandably displayed – a Goods Office sign, a railway lantern, a couple of old clocks that bookend the interior – taking you back to the glory days of steam without ramming home the message.
But the emphasis here, as in the best platform boozers, is very much on pub rather than railway. There's a quiz every Monday, themed food evenings each week (including home-made pie night on Tuesday) and live music in summer in the garden.
Judging from the address of the pub's website, plenty of customers are happy to delay their journeys here. It's easy to see why.
West Riding Refreshment Rooms, Dewsbury Railway Station, Wellington Road, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire WF13 1HF.
Tel. (01924) 459193
Opening Hours: 11–11; 12–11 Monday; 11–midnight Friday; 10–midnight Saturday